Month: May 2016

Almond, Cacao & Raisin Power Bites

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These moreish little goodies are the ultimate sweet treats if you have a sweet tooth but want to avoid processed sugar.

Chocolate is one of the most loved foods in the world and in recent years we’ve started to learn that in its raw form, it is extremely beneficial to our health. (Yippee!)

Theobroma Cacao is a small evergreen tree that thrives in tropical climates; its fruit provides Cacao, or Cocoa which forms the basis of our much-loved chocolate. Unlike chocolate, which in its processed form can be high in fat and sugar, we can call cacao a superfood thanks to its high nutrient content.

The Cacao bean is incredibly rich in antioxidant flavonoids, fat (healthy fat!), carbohydrates, protein, polyphenols (resveratrol), minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, iron, zinc and potassium, oleic acid which is a heart-healthy essential monounsaturated fat, fiber and vitamins E, B2, B1, B5, B3 and B9.

Cacao Powder has some wonderful health benefits including:

  • Brain function and nervous system – can contribute to the normal psychological function of the brain and provide support to the nervous system.
  • Supports normal muscle function and provides maintenance of bones and teeth
  • Can reduce tiredness and fatigue and support energy and metabolism
  • Contains Resveratrol which activates longevity genes

I made these with almond butter and raisins, raisins because they contain higher concentrations of phytonutrients, but you can make them using any type of dried fruit or nuts. I recently showcased some healthy food for a local charity event and someone told me these power-bites were just like truffles, so they might even make a nice healthy and thoughtful gift for someone instead of giving a standard box of chocolates!

To make these I used:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp Rainforest Foods Organic Cacao Powder 250g
  • Half a jar of Meridian Natural Crunchy Almond Butter 170 g (Pack of 3) – (Way better value to get three if you like Almond Butter as just one from Sainsburys or Tesco is around £4.50 but three from Amazon is only £8.37!)
  • Handful of Raisins or other dried fruit (organic ideally)
  • 1/2 Cinammon
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp of Coconut Milk; like Koko or Alpro, not the kind you get from a can. You want the consistency to be doughy not soggy so go gently with the milk. Start with one tablespoon and add more if the mixture doesn’t bind.
  • Desiccated Coconut

Mix ingredients together then form into small pieces with your hands. Roll in the desiccated coconut and chill for up to two hours before devouring. This will make about ten small bites, depending on the size you want them.

Enjoy your guilt-free sweet delights!

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Really Easy Five Bean Chilli

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I think many of us love a good chilli and I’m fairly certain we all know how to make it, but did you know how packed full of goodness this delicious spicy dish actually is?

This is one of my favourite meals to make because it takes no time, you can vary it as much as you like, it’s full of goodness and it tastes delicious.

If you have children, you might want to tone down the spice but otherwise, add as much as you can tolerate and enjoy the burn!

I like to make a huge chilli at the beginning of the week then you have lots of options for the week; you can add meat, have it cold with a salad or reheat it with rice or a sweet potato.

I made this chilli with the following beans, vegetables and spices. I chose these beans particularly because they were the organic selection in boxes in the supermarket (I try to avoid canned food wherever possible as canned food contains BPA).

Beans
Black Beans
Kidney Beans
Butter Beans
Canelloni Beans
Chick Peas

Vegetables (use Organic where possible)
Two red peppers
One white onion (I prefer red for this but I didn’t have one at home)
Five cloves garlic
One box organic Passata
Two red and two green chillis (with seeds)
Two carrots, chopped

Spices
Turmeric
Cayenne Pepper
Paprika
Cumin
Coriander
Black Pepper

The Goodness

Vegetables, legumes, herbs and spices, and fruits are excellent sources of important cancer-fighting and anti-ageing phytonutrients and antioxidants.
A couple of examples in this chilli are Capsaicin, which is the active compound of chilli and hot peppers; it helps to protect DNA from damage and is a powerful anti-cancer phytochemical.
Garlic contains Allium Compounds, an important phytochemical with proven health benefits. Studies from China show that people who eat a lot of garlic are protected against stomach cancer, which may be because garlic is able to block the conversion of nitrates and nitrites (found in many preserved foods) into cancer-causing nitrosamines.
Curcumin, the principal curcuminoid of Turmeric, has been regarded as a medicinal herb for thousands of years and is often mentioned as having the ability to kill or prevent a number of cancers including breast, colon, prostate and skin.

We can see with just a few examples the powerhouse of goodness and nutrients packed into just one bowl of one of our easiest and most popular dishes. I hope this encourages you to make it more often.

Healthy Ice Pops for Kids (& Adults!)

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As the weather gets warmer, things that naturally seem to become like diet staples are ice pops and ice cream. We Brits spent £81.6m on handheld ice cream in 2014 (the grocer.co.uk), so we clearly take our frozen treats seriously.
As delicious and irresistible ice creams and ice pops are on a warm summers day, how often do we look at what’s actually in them?
One of my favourite ice pops when I was young was the Calippo, and I can tell you now, I never looked at or probably cared what was in them.

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There is only 33% fruit juice in a Calippo, and that is actually reconstituted fruit juice which unfortunately means it does not offer the high nutritional qualities of freshly squeezed juice as most of the important enzymes are destroyed through the process of heating and reconstitution.

The remaining ingredients are cane sugar, glucose, food acid, vegetable gum, flavours and colours.

 

I’m not here to negate Calippos or indeed, how lovely they might taste, but fortunately, I do have a solution that is not only cheaper but also infinitely more nutritious.

For less than £8, I purchased a set of six Silicone, Food Grade and BPA-free popsicle molds from Amazon, which are an ideal alternative to plastic –

Callippo Silicone Ice Pop Moulds Push Up Lolly Mold

I very simply squeeze the juice of an orange, pop it in the freezer and after about two hours, I have a delicious and nutritious homemade version of a Calippo!

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You can fill the popsicle molds with anything; pink grapefruit (slightly sweeter than regular), orange and lemon, blackberry or blackcurrant, pineapple… I prefer to buy the organic fruit and then blend it to create a juice but you could buy organic juice if it’s easier, as long as it’s fresh juice with no added sugar and not from concentrate.
Compared to the ingredients of my childhood favourite ice pop; two homemade freshly squeezed frozen orange popsicles contain the entire amount of vitamin C recommended in a day, along with thiamin, folate, potassium, calcium, fiber and antioxidants. So you can enjoy your homemade sweet frozen treat knowing you are providing yourself and your family a wonderful amount of nutrients that everyone can enjoy.